Australia’s resource exports reached record levels in 2018 on the back of high performing commodities such as iron ore, gas, gold and particularly coal.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed resource export values soared to $248 billion for the year, accounting for 72 per cent of Australia’s goods exports overall.

A record $66.2 billion in exports of coal, a $2 billion rise on 2017 figures, came on the back of higher prices and export volumes produced – making the commodity Australia’s most valuable single export, surpassing iron ore.

More than half of the nation’s $66 billion in Australian coal export revenue recorded in 2018 came from Queensland’s $35.7 billion worth of exports.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the figures highlighted the continued role of coal in providing jobs and income for communities throughout Australia, and in underpinning our strong national economic performance.

“There is also good potential for expanded earnings as output from existing coal basins is increased and the Galilee Basin is brought into production,” he said.

Minister Canavan said the industry was creating high-skill, high-pay jobs throughout Australia, often in regional areas.

“These latest figures are proof once again that Australia’s mining boom is far from over,” he said.

The resource-rich state of Western Australia continued as the biggest source of exports, accounting for almost $145bn of the nation’s $344bn in exports.

Coal mine refusal concerning: AMMA

Coal’s elevation to top spot on Australia’s export earnings coincided with a controversial decision this week by the New South Wales Land and Environment Court’s decision to knock back Gloucester Resources’ Rocky Hill coal project.

In the ruling, Land and Environment Court chief justice Brian Preston blamed the greenhouse gas emissions from the mining of the coking coal as a key reason for refusing to give planning consent.

“This decision has proven controversial and rightly so. While not the only reason for rejecting the mine development application, the Land and Environment Court’s focus on its impact on global carbon emissions is concerning,” Tara Diamond, AMMA Acting Chief Executive, said.

“Australia’s commitment to reducing world carbon emissions must be managed by the Commonwealth in accordance with global treaties such as the Paris Agreement.

“Notably coal recently overtook iron ore as Australia’s most value export. What is often overlooked is the coal industry’s contribution to employment. Coal mining directly employs more than 48,000 Australians and would support up to three times as many jobs through supply chain and related industries.

“It is crucial that Australian state and Commonwealth policy makers and courts are aligned on these matters of national significance to ensure the interests of activists do not undermine important and established approval processes and global obligations.”